Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959)
Beatrix Farrand was a landscape gardener whose work defined the American taste in gardens throughout the first half of the 20th century. For generations, gardens consisted of tender and annual plants set out each year in elaborately shaped beds cut into lawn. Farrand joined the likes of England's Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson in championing the use of perennial plants in combinations based upon color harmony, bloom sequence and texture. This was the birth of the mixed border that is standard in gardens today.
Farrand combined this horticultural expertise, honed through study at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, with a keen eye for detail, a near perfect sense of proportion, and a broad foundation in the fine arts and design history. Whether large or small, formal or naturalistic, Farrand's designs responded to both the specifics of the site and the desires of her clients. As a result, each commission was unique, but in each, Farrand's hand was apparent. All of her designs create a singularly comfortable atmosphere while intriguing and amusing visitors with delights both sensory and intellectual.
Beatrix Farrand's work represents the very epitome of her craft. As such, she was sought after by the most powerful individuals and institutions of her day. While most of her gardens have been lost to time, notable exceptions include the Rockefeller's Eyrie Garden in Maine, large portions of the Princeton and Yale campuses, and Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C., indisputably one of the great gardens of the world.
This rarified context should give present-day visitors to the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield a better sense of the treasure that lies within its fieldstone walls. Bellefield Mansion, an elegant 18th century house remodeled by famed architects McKim, Mead and White for Thomas and Sarah Newbold, now serves as the headquarters for the National Park Service.